The Canonical List of Banjo Jokes

(No Banjo Pickin' Allowed Around Here)

In September 1991 Darrell Reich caused severe injury to many of the readers of rec.folk-dancing as a result of excessive laughter when he posted this Canonical List of Banjo Jokes. He may have collected more by now, but I haven't seen sign of them recently. Of course, many of these are borrowed from orchestras who tell the same jokes about viola players! I've converted it to HTML and reformatted it.

 



Preface

Below is the much talked about, Canonical List of Banjo Jokes. Much talked about, but never revealed; until now. This presentation is the result of the tireless efforts of an international network of operatives who combed the earth (and beyond) checking and cross-checking sources to make sure that this time we had the real thing: the definitive list of banjo jokes. Some withstood torture--and some paid the ultimate price: death. So important was our work that we persevered in spite of the obstacles.

 [!] Before proceeding I would like to add a few words of caution. Banjo jokes are jokes about banjo players, their music, their instrument, environmentalism, animal rights, human sacrifice, and interplanetary grave robbing. These jokes has never been told in their entirety because they are dangerously funny: no one has ever lived to retell them in their entirety. We had to taken great precautions to safeguard our health while compiling this list: each operative was responsible for a manageably sized module of the jokes (one not to large as to overcome the individual with so much mirth that would cause him/her to die laughing.) As I typed these jokes, I was blindfolded: part of the jokes were related in various, and obscure languages and dialects, other parts written, and still other parts transmitted in braille or Morse code.

Therefore, I caution you to do the following:

  1. Under no circumstances should you read any part of these jokes if you have a heart condition, stroke, or high blood pressure.
  2.  

  3. Form a team, and take turns reading sections of these jokes. If you find yourself becoming dizzy, or beginning to lose consciousness, stop immediately.
  4.  

  5. If you have taken recreational drugs within the last 24 hours these jokes may cause serious health complications.
  6.  

  7. (3) is also true for certain prescription drugs.
  8.  

  9. Refrain from eating, drinking, or engaging in sexual intercourse while reading these jokes.
  10.  

  11. If you have any questions, please consult a physician before attempting to read these jokes.
  12.  

Are you sure you want to read these jokes?

 Is your will in order and your life insurance paid up? Is it really worth the risks?

 

This is your last chance to exit before being exposed to the Complete list of 101 Banjokes. These jokes will change (or end) your life. I cannot give you any guarantees as to how these jokes will affect you; it all depends upon your physical and psychological state (which I cannot know.)
Once again, are you sure that you are ready to read the Canonical List of Banjo Jokes?

 This is you last chance!! I mean it! Stop now before it's too late!

 God help you and may the force be with you...

 


Disclaimer: This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locals or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 Dedicated to the time and place that is the unique lifestyle of the banjo player of the '90s in Southern California and the excitement and freedom that it brings us--it's cheaper than therapy.

 

What's the difference between a banjo and a....
Chain Saw:
a chain saw has a dynamic range.
you can turn a chain saw off.
South American Macaw:
one is loud, obnoxious, and noisy; and the other is a bird.
Harley Davidson Motorcycle:
you can tune a Harley.
Onion:
no one cries when you cut up a banjo.
Trampoline:
you take your shoes off to jump on a trampoline.
Uzi:
an uzi only repeats forty times.
How many banjo players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Five; one to screw it in and four to
complain that it's electric.
lament about how much they miss the old one.
complain that Earl wouldn't have done it thataway.
argue about what year it was made.
argue about how much it costs.
ask what tuning she's using.
stand around and watch.
Ten:
one to do it & the other 9 to stand around & say, "I could have done it better."
none:
but hum a few bars and I'll fake it.
How many bass players does it take to screw in a light bulb?
All of them are too laid back to bother to change it.
Six:
One to change it and five to keep the banjo players from hogging the light.
How many light bulb joke tellers does it take to change a light bulb?
100:
One to change it & 99 to make stupid jokes about it...
What did the banjo player get on his IQ (or SAT) test?
Drool...

 

How can you tell if the stage is level?
If the banjo player drools out of both sides of his mouth.
Why do some people take an instant aversion to banjo players?
It saves time in the long run.
What's the difference between a skunk run over on the road and a banjo player run over on the road?
You see skid marks in front of the skunk.
What's the difference between a run over skunk and a run over banjo player?
The skunk was on it's way to a gig.
How many banjo players does it take to eat an opossum?
Two, one to eat it and one to watch for cars.
How can you tell the difference between all the banjo songs?
By their names...
What is the definition of perfect pitch?
Throwing a banjo into a toilet without hitting the seat.
What do you call a good musician at a banjo contest?
A visitor.

 

What are flaming guitars good for?
Setting banjos on fire.
Kindling.
Why are banjos better than guitars?
They burn longer.

 

What's the best thing to play on a banjo?
A flame-thrower.

 

What's the difference between a fiddle and a violin?
Who cares?!?
Neither of them is a banjo!
What's the best thing to play on a guitar?
Solitaire.

 

What do you call a guy that hangs around a bunch of musicians?
A banjo player.
A joke teller.
How can you tell if there's a banjo player at your door?
The knocking speeds up and they don't know when to come in.
Why do bluegrass banjo pickers always die with their boots on?
So they won't stub their toes when they kick the bucket.
You're lost in the desert and you see Bugs Bunny, a cactus, and a good banjo player. Who do you ask for directions?
You might as well try the cactus, the other two are figments of your imagination.
Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, a good banjo player, and an old drunk are walking down the street together when they simultaneously spot a hundred dollar bill. Who gets it?
The old drunk, of course, the other three are mythological creatures.
What is the banjo picker's favourite whine?
Play Duelling Banjos...
Why are all those banjo jokes so darned simple?
That's so bass players can understand them too.
Where do banjo players play best?
In traffic.
In a galaxy far, far away...
How do you keep a banjo player in suspense?...
What is the most important aspect of banjo joke telling?
...Timing...
How is playing the banjo a lot like throwing a javelin blindfolded?
You don't have to be very good to get people's attention.
What do you say to the banjo player in the 3 piece suit?
will the defendant please rise.

 

What do you get when you throw a banjo and an accordion off the Empire State Building?
Who Cares...
Applause.
What do you call twenty-five banjos up to their necks in sand?
Not enough sand.
What do you call one-hundred banjos at the bottom of the ocean?
A good start.
What will you never say about a banjo player?
That's the banjo player's Porsche.
How can you get a banjo player's eyes to sparkle?
Shine a light in his ears...
You can tune a banjo but how do you tuna fish?
By adjusting it's scales...
Why do so many fishermen own banjos?
They make great anchors!
Why did the Boy Scout take up the banjo?
They make good paddles.
Why did the banjo player leave his capo on the dashboard?
So he could park in the handicap zone.
Why did the banjo player cross the road?
It was the chicken's day off.
What is the difference between a banjo player and a prune?
Their colour of course!
How can you tell a herd of banjo players from a bunch of grapes?
Jump up and down on them...If you get wine, you've got grapes!

 

"Doctor, doctor will I be able to play the banjo after the operation?"
"yes, of course..." "Great! I never could before..."

 

What's the best / fastest way to tune a banjo?
With wire cutters.

 

Which one of the following does not belong: Herpes, Measles, AIDS, Banjo Players?
Measles--You can get rid of the Measles.
What should you do if you run over a banjo?
Back up...

 

When do banjo songs sound the best?
When they're over.

 

Why do fiddlers pick on banjo players?
Because they can't pick on their fiddles.
Why does everyone pick on banjo players?
Because it's so easy!!!
Well, maybe I should stop picking on banjo players...
Naaaaaah.
There's not much between you and a fool is there?
Just a banjo...
Listener: Can you read music?
Banjo player: not enough to hurt my playing.
A man walked into a bar with his alligator and asked the bartender, "Do you serve banjo players here?"
"Sure do," replied the bartender.
"Good," said the man. "Give me a beer, and I'll have a banjo picker for my 'gator."

 A banjo player walked into a bar...another banjo player walked into the bar...you'd think the second banjo player would have seen what happened to the first banjo player and ducked! [under the bar.]

 I recently had surgery on my hand, and asked the doctor if, after surgery, I would be able to play the banjo. He said, "I'm doing surgery on your hand, not giving you a lobotomy."

 The Pope and a banjo player find themselves together before the Pearly Gates. After a small quantum of time which was spent discussing their respective professions, ol' Saint Peter shows up to usher them to their new Heavenly station. After passing out wings, harps, halos, and such, St. Pete decides to show them to their new lodgings. Only a brief flight from the welcome, Pete brings them down on the front lawn (cloud-encrusted, natch) of a huge palatial estate with all sorts of lavish trappings. This, Pete announces, is where the banjo player will be spending eternity, (at least until the end of time...) "Hot Dang," the Pope says to His-self, "If he's getting a place like this, I can hardly wait to see my digs!" They take flight once again, and as Pete leads on, the landscape below begins to appear more and more mundane until they finally land on a street lined with Brownstone houses. Pete indicates the third walkup on the left as the Pope's new domicile and turns to leave, wishing the pontiff his best. The Pope, in a mild state of astonishment, cries out "Hey Pete! What's the deal here? You put that banjo player-feller in a beautiful estate and I, spiritual leader of terra-firma, end up with this dive? Pete looks at the pontiff amusedly and replies: "Look here old fellow, this street is practically encrusted with spiritual leaders from many times and religions. We're putting you here with them so you guys can get your dogma together. That other guy gets an estate, because he's the first (non-)damned banjo player to make it up here!!"

 Saint Peter, wanting the new arrivals to feel at home, promised to spend some quality time with each one. He asked his first arrival of the day, "Hi! What's your IQ?" "150," he said. "Great," said Peter, as he showed the man in, "we should get together tomorrow and discuss the theory of relativity for a while." He asked the next person, "What's your IQ?" "120," she said. "Fine, fine," said Peter, "I'd love to take some time with you Wednesday to discuss current world politics." To the third person, he asked, "What's your IQ?" "42," drawled the fellow. "Fantastic!" cried Peter, "I've been looking for years for somebody who could help me perform a banjo duet!"

 A banjo player goes to his class reunion and meets up with the smartest kid in his class, "Hi, how are you doing? What have you been up to?" he says. "I'm doing experimental brain research at the Salk Institute," replies the smart kid. Then, our hero sees another classmate of his, who never was very smart. He walks over to him and says, "Elroy! How are you doing? I've been meaning to ask you, what type of picks do you use? Heard any good banjo jokes lately..."

 An old man was on his death bed and called his whole family together so that he could bid them farewell and make his peace with the world. After he said what he wanted to each in turn and he knew he was coming very close to death he called for all to gather together. "I have one thing I would like to confess before I go," he said. They all drew closer. "It was me," cough, wheeze, "I was the one," he said as they leaned down as close as they could to hear what he could barely get out in a whisper. Gasp, cough, "I was the one," cough, wheeze, "in the kitchen with Dinah..."

 

A man went to a brain store to get some brain for dinner. He sees a sign remarking on the quality of brain offered at this particular brain store. So he asks the butcher:
"How much for fiddle player brain?"
"2 dollars an ounce."
"How much for mandolin player brain?"
"3 dollars an ounce."
"How much for guitar player brain?"
"4 dollars an ounce."
"How much for banjo player brain?"
"100 dollars an ounce."
"Why is banjo player brain so much more?"
"Do you know how many banjo players you need to kill to get one ounce of brain?"
At a convention of biological scientists one researcher remarks to another, "Did you know that in our lab we have switched from mice to banjo players for our experiments?" "Really?" the other replied, "Why did you switch?" "Well, for three reasons. First we found that banjo players are far more plentiful, second, the lab assistants don't get so attached to them, and thirdly there are some things even a rat won't do. However, sometimes it very hard to extrapolate our test results to human beings."

 For three years, the young banjo player had been taking his brief vacations at this country inn. The last time he'd finally managed an affair with the innkeeper's daughter. Looking forward to an exciting few days, he dragged his suitcase up the stairs of the inn, then stopped short. There sat his lover with an infant on her lap! "Helen, why didn't you write when you learned you were pregnant?" he cried. "I would have rushed up here, we could have gotten married, and the baby would have my name!" "Well," she said, "when my folks found out about my condition, we sat up all night talkin' and talkin' and decided it would be better to have a bastard in the family than a banjo player."

 Banjo players spend half their lives tuning and the other half playing out of tune.

Banjo pickers: we tune because we care...

I bought mine tuned.

Banjo players play requests by multiple choice not fill in the blank.

"You can pick your banjo and you can pick your nose but you can't wipe your banjo on your pants."

 "Anyone can play one of them things--all you need is three fingers and a plastic head"

 The sixth fret on a banjo is a lot like the thirteenth floor on a building--you don't really need one.

Banjo players are a lot like sharks--they think they have to keep playing or they'll sink...

"Banjos are to music as Spam is to food..."

 "He can't hear you, he's playing his banjo--his brain is disconnected..."

 Play Bluegrass Lite! One third Fewer Notes! Less Picking! Sounds Great!

Second verse same as the first
A little bit faster and a little bit worse.

 The banjo is such a happy instrument--you can't play a sad song on the banjo it always comes out so cheerful...

If you practice, tune, make a sound check, and sit down to play it's folk music otherwise it's bluegrass.

Some people call it Cripple Creek--but they're wrong!

I used to play on TV but my mom said get off or I'd break it!

After you've played the banjo long enough people will pay you to play; however, your neighbours will pay you to stop.

 You can either laugh a little faster or I can tell the jokes a little slower...

"The only thing worse than telling banjo jokes is laughing at them!"

 


Them Banjo Pickers by Mason Williams

How bout them banjo pickers ain't they fine
Same damn song for three or four times

 Them banjo pickers all they know
Is Cumberland Gap and doe see doe

 Them banjo pickers talking bout strings
Banjo pegs and other such things

 Them banjo pickers them poker faced mugs
They never do smile they just play Scruggs

 You want to be a banjo picker you don't need a ticket
Just get yourself a banjo rare back and pick it.

 


Glossary

banjopourri: [French; banjo + of pourrir, to rot] a stew, mixture, medley, miscellany, or anthology of banjos. Coined from potpourri.

 stealth banjo player: doesn't have a clue as to how the song goes--tries to hide behind other musicians.

 symbolic bass: got volunteered to play bass in the band but doesn't want to break a fingernail.

 zombiegrass: picture a banjo picker standing straight faced under a large cowboy hat.

 

Epilogue

I [Darrell] started collecting banjo jokes in August of 1990 while preparing for the Julian Banjo, Fiddle, Guitar & Mandolin Contest. Summertime is the perfect weather for jamming. The New Expression music store had their annual camp out to start the summer off and by August, I hit every bluegrass club meeting in greater San Diego County.

 Then one night it happened, I was invited to a jam at a friend's house so I grabbed my banjo and a strawberry pie, called another banjo player and invited him to join us and was off. Well, there were so many banjo players at the jam that night that one of the bass players started with the banjo jokes (some of which sound a lot like recycled lawyer jokes.)

 I tried to forget them and failed so I started writing them down but my attempts to regain my sanity were in vain. At least with this I can practice getting the jokes right or just call them off by number. My quest for the perfect banjo joke had begun. The consequences of this have far out reached any expectations I could have had at the time.

 At every bluegrass club meeting, Julian, and New Expression banjo workshop since I have eagerly interrogated the other banjo players and bluegrassers for new jokes. I asked the band at the pizza parlour before they went on and they started telling jokes in between songs. By then I knew all the answers and my name was becoming synonymous with banjo jokes!

 I posted my jokes to the folk music and humour news groups of the Usenet electronic computer network which is sent around the world via the National Science Foundation Internet computer network and got a reply from banjo pickers from as far away as England and Scotland. These jokes go out to the members of the Slow-Jam and end up in the North County Bluegrass & Folk Music Club newsletter which goes out and ends up...this is great I get people mailing me banjo jokes from all over the place.

 I sent a copy of my joke collection to the Bluegrass Special and the DJ read some on the air for anyone who was awake on Sunday night at 11:24 pm. It was finals week and it really made my day to hear my name on the radio. People have started to recognise me at bluegrass jams around town as "the guy with all the dumb banjo jokes."

 #1. Down in the bluegrass crossword puzzle in the June 1991 issue of the San Diego Bluegrass Club newsletter says "Darrell Reich always has a new one. (two words)" [nine letters.]
#1. Across is "That high lonesome sound...."

 I usually start jamming with the joke of the week to warm up. One of the nicest compliments I've gotten is when someone told me, "Hey Darrell, I thought you just carried that thing [my banjo] around and told jokes all day but you're actually pretty good!" [at playing the banjo not telling jokes.] I had just told all my jokes and then jumped in with Whiskey Before Breakfast, the song I picked to play at Julian this year.

 The critics [non-banjo players] say, "you would have to be a banjo player to enjoy these jokes--I'm sure you and the boys are still laughing..." and it's true fer sure!

 So, this is it, my 101 banjo jokes, The Canonical List, numbered and illustrated complete with preface, disclaimer, dedication, glossary, epilogue, and appendices, perfect to just stuff in your case so you'll never be without a comment on stage or at a jam. Even by yourself--you'll always have a reason to smile. Enjoy. Keep those cards and letters coming! I've got one more year of college before I've got to go and get a real job [the banjo player for Apple Computers Inc.?!?] If I had to do it all over again, I'd make the same mistake....

 Darrell Reich

 

Appendix A: 1991 Season and Bag Limits on Banjo Players

  1. Any persons with a valid hunting license may harvest banjo players.
  2. Taking of banjo players with traps or deadfalls is permitted. The use of currency as bait is prohibited.
  3. Killing of banjo players with a vehicle is prohibited. If accidentally struck, remove dead banjo player to the roadside and proceed to the nearest car wash.
  4. It is unlawful to chase, herd, or harvest banjo players from snow machine, hay wagon, helicopter, or aircraft.
  5. It shall be unlawful to shout "jam", "bluegrass", or "free pizza" for the purpose of trapping banjo players.
  6. It shall be unlawful to hunt banjo players within 100 meters of Jeep or Ford Dealerships.
  7. It shall be unlawful to use drugs, cute girls, $100 bills, or banjo PA system sales to attract banjo players.
  8. It shall be unlawful to hunt banjo players within 200 meters of acoustic music stores, bluegrass club meetings, parking lot picking sessions, pizza parlours, or Radio Shack stores.
  9. If a banjo player is appointed to a government position of senior responsibility, it shall be a felony to hunt, trap, or possess them.
  10. Stuffed or mounted banjo players must have a state health department inspection for AIDS, rabies, and hoof-and-mouth disease.
  11. It shall be illegal for a hunter to disguise himself as a reporter, drug dealer, female banjo player, pizza delivery person, talent scout, girl scout, sheep, illegal provider of copyrighted music, bookie, or tax accountant for the purpose of hunting banjo players.

Bag Limits

yellow bellied sidewinder  reputable banjo players  Extinct 
two faced banjo players  banjo joke teller 
back stabbing frailer  brown nose picker 
big nosed singer  tab pirate 

Appendix B: ten easy steps to better banjo playing

The Doc Stock Banjo Method
or Any jerk can play the banjo
so why not you too?
by Jim Rosenstock
Lesson 1: Beat It!
The most common mistake of the beginning banjo player is to play too gently. True, musical instruments require great care and special handling, but banjos should not be confused with these. There are three basic licks that are used in playing the banjo: the hit (abbreviated h in tablature), the harder hit (H), and the beat (B). Learn these three licks, and soon you'll be able to play anything! Remember -- Hit 'em again, hit 'em again, harder, harder!

 

Lesson 2: Stage Presence
A dignified stage presence will do more than anything else to create the impression that you are a serious, professional musician. This is to be avoided at all costs--you have a reputation to maintain, after all! While playing on stage, you should:
  1. slouch,
  2. drool,
  3. pick nose,
  4. bump fiddler,
  5. cross eyes,
  6. pour beer on self, and/or
  7. stare off into space.
The more you can do at once, the better.

 

Lesson 3: Tuning your banjo
Musicians make a very big deal about "getting in tune." Fortunately, you're a banjo player, and therefore need not be so hung up. There are three basic ways to tune a banjo:
With a tuning fork:
Tap the fork on a hard surface. Listen to the clear bell-like tone. Make sure none of your strings duplicate this tone.
With an electric tuner:
Tap the tuner on a hard surface. Continue as with first method.
With a fiddle:
Tap the fiddle on a hard surface. Continue as above.
Lesson 4: Tunes and Tablature
It's a well-kept secret that there are really only four tunes in old-time music: the G Tune, the A Tune, the D Tune, and the C Tune. It's an even better-kept secret that these four tunes sound exactly the same. Tablature is a simplified form of musical notation used by musicians to preserve music on paper. Avoid all tablature--you will get nowhere as a banjo player by imitating musicians.
Lesson 5: Drugs, FastFret(tm), pizza, strawberry pie, & Banjo Playing
Just say, "Why not?"
Lesson 6: Playing with Musicians
Playing with musicians is always scary for the beginning banjo player. You should not be intimidated, though, because musicians like to have a banjo player or two around. Even the most mediocre group of musicians will sound great by contrast when a banjo player is added. So get in there and start jamming!
Lesson 7: Banjo Paraphernalia
A capo allows the banjo player, once out of tune in one key, to quickly be out of tune in any other key.

 A case protects your banjo from abuse, except when it is being played. This is really unimportant, but where else can you put all your cool bumper stickers?

 A dog will follow a banjo player around and keep everyone uncertain as to which is responsible for the odour.

 Beer is the experienced banjo player's favourite liquid to spill on the dance floor, dancers, and/or musicians. Sometimes it is filtered through the kidneys first.

 

Lesson 8: Name That Tune
As mentioned previously, there are only four tunes, and they all sound the same. It is definitely uncool, however, to let on in public that you know this, so here's a list of titles for The Tune: Turkey in the Straw, Bug in the Taters, Paddy on the Turnpike, Fire on the Mountain, Billy in the Lowground, Drugs in the Urine Sample, Christ on a Crutch, Monkey in the Dog Cart, Logs in the Bedpan, Ducks in the Millpond, Pigeon on a Gate Post, Water on the Knee.
Lesson 9: Three Myths Dispelled
Myth Number 1:
It takes hard work and talent to play the banjo.
Fact:
The only talent most banjo players have is a talent for avoiding hard work.

 

Myth Number 2:
You can make good money playing the banjo.
Fact:
People will frequently pay you much better money to stop.

 

Myth Number 3:
Your banjo will make you friends wherever you go.
Fact:
This is only true if you never go anywhere.
Lesson 10: The Universal Banjo Tune
----H----B---h---B----------H-------B---B-H--------
--h---H--B---------B--------H---H---B-H-B---H------
---------B-----h-----B------H-B---------B-----H----
-----------h-----------h----------h----------------
------------------------------------------------B--
h=hit it! H=hit it harder!        B=beat it!
This article was reprinted from the February 1990 issue of The Daily Clog, Julie Mangin, editor.

Appendix C: Telling jokes by the numbers...

A tabloid reporter went to the annual banjo joke teller's convention to report on it for her newspaper. Part of the convention was a joke competition. The first comedian came out and said, "Number 236." The crowd burst out laughing.

 The next comedian walked on stage and said, "Number 1265." A round of laughter gripped the audience. Some of the people around the reporter even fell out of their chairs.

 Another one came out and said, "Number 876." The chuckling lasted for minutes. The confused reporter turned to the person seated next to her and asked, "I don't get it. Why are they just saying numbers?" The guy replied, "Well, we know all the jokes by numbers, so all the competitors have to do is give the number."

 The next comedian came out and said, "Number 834." Silence. Not even a guffaw... The reporter asked, "What happened?" "Some people just don't know how to tell a joke."

 The next comedian came out and said, "Number 1254." The audience erupted with raucous laughter. More hysterics than any of the previous comedians. The reporter asked, "What happened?" "That was a joke we had never heard before."

 

Cartoon Captions

[I'm afraid that I only have the captions, if anyone can scan the pictures we can put them together]

 From The Far Side Cartoons:

 

wait, wait what's that sound, what's that sound...

Devil: Here's your room Maestro...

 Doctor, doctor, I've come all the way from Alabama with this thing stuck on my knee...

 

The Compulsive Lyre (Harp) "no, no I'm a banjo..."

 The New Slow-Jam Logo a turtle playing the banjo wearing sunglasses.

 


Extras

These are some extras that I [Rhod] have come across. Share and enjoy:

 "Frets ain't nothing but speed bumps on a banjo..."

 A gentleman is someone who can play the banjo, but doesn't.

 

What is the difference between a banjo and a ukelele.
A banjo takes longer to burn.

This page last modified Tue Apr 9 1996 10:35:52
Rhod Davies

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